Beefing with Eco

I am frustrated by reading Umberto Eco’s piece, “The Future of Books.” I can’t help but feel that the guy just really likes to talk. What is he talking about? As expressed by the title, the piece makes an argument in favor of the book’s lasting qualities and in making this argument, Eco goes about listing, in as many words and sentences as he can possibly muster, a variety of reasons and ways that books will remain important in a world that seems to want to forget them. Interestingly, I share Eco’s support of the book, but I wonder if he’s really helping the movement with his writing. In making this argument, he calls upon such strategic, argumentative gems as, ‘books are more pleasurable to read,’ and ‘what would you do on a deserted island without electricity,’ saying, “After having spent no more than twelve hours at a computer console, my eyes are like two tennis balls, and I feel the need to sit comfortably down in an armchair and read a newspaper, or maybe a good poem,” and “Books are still the best companions for a shipwreck, or for the Day After” (Eco). Are we really having this conversation in an academic setting? Don’t worry, this blog post won’t only bash on Umberto Eco’s writing style, so lets consider his arguments a little further.

Eco says that, “It seems to me that computers are/diffusing a new form of literacy but are incapable of satisfying all the intellectual needs they are stimulating” (Eco). Can someone please tell me why because Eco doesn’t seem to get the message across to me.

“Books will remain indispensable not only for literature, but for any circumstance in which one needs to read carefully, not only to receive information but also to speculate and to reflect about it” (Eco). Again, I ask the question, WHY? It seems to me that digital composition would be far better than a book for this process of speculation and reflection. Not only could one compose such a thought or reflection, but one could also receive feedback on such information. Why can we not read a digital text carefully? Are books the only form of text that can be analyzed, speculated about, ad reflected on. I just don’t understand what Eco’s argument is, other than he personally prefers the materiality of the book and finds it more pleasant that text on a lexia. Someone please tell me what he is talking about and whether or not we should care about some of these levels of triviality.

Philip Petrunak


~ by philippetrunak on February 28, 2010.

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